The Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1823.
The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revelers, floats and adornments from numerous samba school which are located in Rio (more than 200 approximately, divided into 5 leagues/ divisions.) A samba school is composed of a collaboration of local neighbours that want to attend carnival together, with some kind of regional, geographical common background. The Top League, called the "Special Group" of Samba schools in 2014 include: GRES Unidos da Tijuca, Mocidade Independente, GRES Imperatriz Leopoldinense, GRES Uniao da Ilha do Governador, GRES Acadêmicos do Salgueiro, Portela, whose origin remounts to the single first samba group in Rio, GRES São Clemente, the traditional GRES Estação Primeira de Mangueira, founded by Cartola, samba composer and singer and Fluminense Football Club famous fan, GRES Acadêmicos do Grande Rio, located at Duque de Caxias city, GRES Unidos de Vila Isabel, Beija-Flor de Nilópolis, and finally GRES Império da Tijuca, which won the Access Division in 2013 Rio Carnival contest.
One of the many main purposes of the Rio carnival parade is for samba schools to compete with fellow rival... not (they are called co-sisters) samba-schools; this competition is the climax of the whole carnival festival in this city, related to the samba-schools environment. Each school chooses a theme to try and portray in their entry. The samba schools work to build the best floats,costumes, lyrics, aesthetics, to represent their themes ( in Carnival terminology called "enredo"), and to include the best music they can from their drumming band called the bateria. There are many parts to each school's entry including the six to eight floats and up to 4,000 ( four thousand ) revelers per Samba-school of the so-called Special group.
There is a special order that every school has to follow with their parade entries. Each school begins with the "comissão de frente" (Commission of Front in English), which is the first wing. The "comissão de frente" is made up of ten to fifteen people only, and they are the ones who introduce the school and set the mood. These people have choreographic dances in fancy costumes that usually tell a short story. Following the "comissão de frente" is the first float of the samba school, called "abre-alas" ( Opening Wing in English ).
Some of the important roles include the porta-bandeira and mestre-sala. The porta-bandeira is a very important lady who is in charge of the samba school flag, including making sure to not allow the flag to roll. She is accompanied by the mestre-sala, who is supposed to draw everyone’s attention to "his queen", the porta-bandeira. Floatees, who are also important, are the people who populate the floats, also known as destaques. The floatees have the most luxurious and expensive costumes that can be extremely heavy. Along with all the floatees is one main floatee that is located at the top of each float. The main destaque dances and sings for the entire time that the float is on the runway.
One other aspect that is mandatory is the presence of the ala das baianas. This is a wing of the samba school entry that includes at least 100 females only. These women along with many other people do not ride on the floats as many others do, instead they are passistas, the people who belong to the samba school that do the marching alongside and between the floats.
As the parade is taking place in the Sambodromo and the balls are being held in the Copacabana Palace and beach, many of the carnival participants are at other locations. Street festivals are very common during carnival and are highly populated by the locals. Elegance and extravagance are usually left behind, but music and dancing are still extremely common. Anyone is allowed to participate in the street festivals. Bandas and bondos are very familiar with the street carnival especially because it takes nothing to join in on the fun except to jump in. One of the most well known bandas of Rio is Banda de Ipanema. Banda de Ipanema was first created in 1965 and is known as Rio’s most irreverent street band.
Incorporated into every aspect of the Rio carnival are dancing and music. The most famous dance is the samba, a Brazilian dance with African influences. The samba was created by the African . The samba remains a popular dance not only in carnival but in the ghetto villages outside of the main cities. These villages keep alive the historical aspect of the dance without the influence of the western cultures. Other dances include the lundu, the polka, and the maxixe.
The samba is the main dance of Rio Carnival but it is not performed in silence. Music is another major aspect of all parts of carnival. As stated by Samba City, “Samba Carnival Instruments are an important part of Brazil and the Rio de Janeiro Carnevale, sending out the irresistible beats and rhythms making the crowd explode in a colourful dance revolution fantasy fest!” The samba that is found in Rio is batucada, referring to the dance and music being based on percussion instruments. It “is born of a rhythmic necessity that it allows you to sing, to dance, and to parade at the same time.” This is why the batucada style is found in most all of Rio’s street carnivals.
Street parades, blocos and bandas take place throughout the city of Rio during Carnival. There can be more than 300 bandas taking place at any given point in time. While the biggest street party takes place right outside the Sambadrome, the largest organized street dance is typically found on Cinelândia Square in Rio’s Centro. In 2012, more than 2 million revelers took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to participate in the Cordão do Bola Preta bloco. According to police estimates, more than 5 million people attended a bloco during Rio Carnival 2012 and there was not one reported incident of crime.
The Carnival begins on Friday and ends on Ash Wednesday. But the Winner's Parade happen on Saturday after the carnival end.
- February 28 to March 4, 2014
- February 13 to February 18, 2015
- February 5 to February 10, 2016
- February 24 to March 1, 2017
- February 9 to February 14, 2018
- March 1 to March 6, 2019
- February 21 to February 26, 2020
- February 12 to February 17, 2021
Rio Carnival tickets
In 1984 the government decided to give Rio Carnival its new home in the Sambadrome. Today, some of the most infamous events of Rio Carnival are ticketed events. There are different types of Sambodromo tickets that are available for purchase. Grandstand tickets are general admissions tickets that are available on a first come-first serve basis and are not allocated ahead of time. Frisas are open air box seats located along the samba runway. Camarotes are luxury boxes situated between the frisas and the grandstands. Sector 9 is the tourist sector which are the same as grandstand tickets, with the difference being that they are allocated so people have assigned seats.
Carnival ticket prices can vary from US$ 69 to US$ 3000. Depending of the ticket type, sector and season.
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- Samba City, Samba Music, April 1, 2007.
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- William Alves, Music of the Peoples of the World, California, Thomson Schirmer, 2006, p. 295.
- Video Example of Samba-School Entrance in Rio ´s Sambadrome
- Ipanema, Parade, http://www.ipanema.com/carnival/parade.htm, April 1, 2007.
- Pagnoncelli, Eduardo, http://www.soundsandcolours.com/articles/brazil/everything-is-possible-street-carnival-in-rio-de-janeiro/, Sounds and Colours, March 2, 2011
- Ipanema, Banda, http://www.ipanema.com/carnival/banda.htm, April 1, 2007.
- Shanachie Entertainment Corp, The Spirit of Samba: Black Music of Brazil, VHS, 1990, April 1, 2007.
- Samba City, Samba Instruments, April 1, 2007.
- Samba City, Samba Carnival Instruments, http://www.sambacity.info/samba-carnival-instruments.html, April 1, 2007.
- "Rio Carnival Street Parties".
- "About Sambadrome".
- "Rio Carnival Tickets Guide".
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